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Fast food has become a major part of the American diet. According to a health and nutrition examination survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released this 2018, on any given day an estimated 36.6% or approximately 84.8 million adults in the country consume fast food.

Fast food appeals to the people’s need for delicious tasting meals on the go without spending too much. Understandably, fast food chains focus on speed of service and taste rather than the health component of their meals. This cuts down the price and makes the meals readily available and affordable.

However, recently, American consumers have been leaning towards healthier options. As consumers become more health-conscious and mindful of the type of food that they eat, industry experts jump at the chance to introduce the concept of fast food but with healthier ingredients.

The Concept of Fast-Casual Dining

With innovators such as Panera Bread, Shake Shack, and Red Brick Pizza dominating the industry, consumers are shown a healthy food franchise concept where fast food meets fine dining. Thus, the concept of fast-casual dining is introduced.

If you’re looking for fine dining or quick-service, the fast-casual dining concept covers both pretty well. Consumers are presented with the best of both worlds, combining the elements of quick-service with casual dining. It is relatively low in cost with an ambiance associated with sit-down dining.

Difference between Fast-Casual and Fast Food

Though fast-casual is a continuously evolving concept, there are four main factors that differentiate it from other types of dining experiences:

  • Food

The major appeal of fast-casual restaurants is the freshly prepared food. As compared to fast-food restaurants where food is pre-assembled, fast-casual dining offers food that is freshly made and prepared for the consumer.

Consumers can expect fresh, high-quality, creative and unique menu items in fast-casual dining. This includes salads, sandwiches, and a variety of healthier meal options.

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  • Pricing

Since food is made to order with high-quality ingredients, the price is a little higher than fast food but lower than fine dining restaurants. A report from WD Partners found that the average dinner at a fast-casual restaurant cost $7.50, compared to $3.65 at a fast-food restaurant.

  • Service

Fast-casual restaurants have limited service. Consumers can either wait for their food by the counter and bring it with them to their table, or the food can be brought to them once it’s ready. Customers can expect accommodating service from employees, even if they’re not receiving table-side service.

  • Environment

The environment at a fast-casual restaurant is pleasant and comfortable, and many of them aim to be aesthetically pleasing. Consumers are free to wear comfortable clothing and eat at their own pace. Fast-casual environments may have free-form table layouts, upholstered booths, and low-key lighting that encourages diners to linger over their meals.

Unique, creative, and with better quality ingredients. It’s no surprise that fast-casual dining is quickly gaining popularity in the restaurant and franchising scene. Fast-casual restaurants offer consumers speedy service with freshly-prepared, higher-quality food in an informal setting.

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